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Park and ride

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Norris sounded utterly professional in his speech on the London stand as he criticised the mayor more in sorrow than anger. But the star of the London show that particular day was co-speaker Terry Farrell. His message was a simple one, and the more you think about it, the more convincing it sounds: turn the 'Thames Gateway' area into a giant national park for use by Londoners and others in the South East.The idea works on several levels. First, it establishes that the prime purpose of so far undeveloped land is to start as nature and only be built on if it is sensible.This implies ruling out volume housebuilder estates on flood plains, massively contaminated land and sites covered in pylons which are too expensive to relocate underground. Second, it concentrates minds on the necessary provision of housing elsewhere in London, in addition to what may be built in the Lower Lea Valley and on either side of the Thames Gateway bridge, linking Beckton to Thamesmead.The government should put Terry in charge of the big idea, and while it is in good design mode, hold a proper design competition for the new bridge.

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